Relaunched and redubbed in 1994 as the Brats, the NME Awards were the anti-award that pushed back against The Brits and coincided with the resurgent Britpop explosion in modern British music. The iconic middle finger, a nod towards punk, The Sex Pistols and counter culture have an equally intriguing story as the ceremony for which they were commissioned. The NME awards are one of the most coveted awards in modern music, for over half a century they have captivated, inspired and shocked the music world. Throughout the years, the NMEs have constantly evolved, celebrating and rewarding the most exciting bands, singers and industry figures within music. Sponsored by VO5 and patronised by the city of Austin, Texas, the VO5 NME Awards 2017 are taking place on February 15th at the O2 Brixton Academy in London. In our latest blog entry we look back at Creative Awards’ involvement with the NME awards and give a whistlestop tour of the electrifying awards.
The first NME Awards took place in April 1953 at the Royal Albert Hall and were conducted via the Readers’ Poll and would continue to take place until 1968. As the ‘60s became the ‘70s, the award ceremony was discontinued but the Readers’ Poll continued. It wasn’t until 1994 that they were re-born as The Brats to celebrate Britpop and laugh in the face of the more mainstream Brits.
London-based awards company Creative Awards was tasked with capturing the swagger and attitude of the time in an award that would become as infamous and iconic as its recipients.
Our chief designer said: “Originally when NME approached me to design a new award for the ceremony, I immediately thought of what rock music and the NME represent. For me growing up in ‘70’s Britain, I remember the snotty attitude and political messages that some of my favourite bands stood for.
“The ‘90s was an exciting time for music and I could see how groups like Pulp, Oasis and Blur were recapturing this original spirit. What better way than to stick it to the establishment than with a proud middle finger.”
Cast from the hand of a mysterious chap named Doug and standing at just under a foot high, the award is crowned with a golden bracelet where the winner’s names are engraved. The controversial award design has been firmly cemented within the annals of NME and music lore and is as recognisable as the artists themselves.
Over the years, the Brats have courted fame, controversy and infamy. Memorable moments include Thom Yorke snapping the middle finger off of an award, Russell Brand and Sir Bob Geldof’s impressively foul-mouthed spat and Cliff Richard being booed of stage for not playing live!
Famous venues to have hosted the awards include the Royal Albert Hall, the Hammersmith Palais and the current venue, the O2 Brixton Academy.
Leading the nominations for this year’s event is Beyoncé, being put forward in five different categories. How does Beyoncé stack up in comparison with previous winners? The top 10 for the most awards won goes to...
- Elvis Presley and John Peel (26 Awards)
- Cliff Richard (21 Awards)
- Paul Weller and Arctic Monkeys (20 Awards)
- Morrissey (18 Awards)
- Muse (17 Awards)
- The Beatles (14 Awards)
- The Jam (13 Awards)
- David Bowie (11 Awards)
This year’s nominees include The 1975, Bastille, Christine and the Queens, Wolf Alice, Kanye West and Adele, demonstrating the scope and variety inherent with the NMEs. Regardless of who the big winners are this year, it is safe to say that when we visit this awards ceremony, it's always the one which leaves us with the sorest heads the following day.